Geoff Wilkinson looks at the potential pitfalls of kitchen, utility and bathroom schemes
Work to a kitchen, utility room or bathroom can seem like the simplest of projects an architect can deal with, but they can be a minefield if you aren’t sure when you need Building Regulation approval.
A very simple refresh with new units and fittings does not generally require approval, however moving sanitary fittings such as the sink or toilet or carrying out electrical works as part of a refit may do so.
Source: Agnese Sanvito
If a bathroom or kitchen is to be provided in a room where there wasn’t one before or you are knocking down a wall (loadbearing or not), Building Regulations approval is likely to be required to ensure the room will have adequate ventilation and drainage, and meet requirements in respect of structural stability and electrical and fire safety. If in doubt always check with a building control body – either the local authority or an approved inspector. Here’s a quick guide to some of the pitfalls to look out for:
Part A Apart from the obvious issues of removing a structural wall, if you are changing the use of a room (eg installing a large bath or jacuzzi in a bedroom) this could increase the load on the floor structure and require strengthening the floor.
Part B Making an open-plan space by removing doors or walls between the kitchen and other rooms, particularly to a staircase, will affect means of escape. Additional precautions in other parts of the property may be needed, such as escape windows, interlinked smoke and heat detection, additional fire resistance or even sprinklers.
Part F When inserting or removing an internal wall, care should be taken not to make ventilation worse. Any new kitchen, a toilet with no openable window; a bath/shower room or utility room should be provided with a mechanical extract fan. The type of room will determine how much ventilation is required. Part F says that where a kitchen previously had only a recirculating fan this can be retained/replaced if it is made no worse. However, I would always recommend fitting an extractor to deal with condensation.
• Kitchen: 30l/s if over the hob and 60l/s if placed elsewhere
• Bath/shower: 15l/s with overrun
• Toilet: 6l/s with overrun
• Utility room: 30l/s
Part H Replacing existing fittings on a like-for-like basis is not controlled. However, if the installation of the fittings will extend or make new connections to a drainage stack or an underground drain, the above-ground wastes and drains are controllable.
Part L If you install or replace a window or external door as part of the works, it will need to comply with Part L Heat Loss in all cases. It may also need to comply with Part A Structure if the opening is made wider; Part K Safety Glazing if the glass is at low level; and possibly Part B Fire Spread if the glass is within 1m of the boundary, for example.
Part J This obviously applies if you install a new boiler, but also if you move the boiler to another location or even if you leave the boiler where it is but extend the flue. Also, if hiding a boiler in a cupboard, take care to ensure there is adequate ventilation and access for servicing.
Part M Another area where you may get caught out is simply moving a ground-floor toilet, since most houses constructed after 1999 will have a ground-floor toilet installed, which has been designed to cater for any visiting wheelchair users. During any refitting, this toilet should not be removed and the accessibility of the toilet should not be made any worse, as it would then be inadequate for future wheelchair users.
Part P Electrical work may be non-notifiable unless a new circuit is provided. For example, installing a new built-in cooker or prefabricated modular lighting is non-notifiable unless a new circuit is required. Even so, be wary of affecting:
• structure (depth of chases in walls, notches in floor and roof joists)
• fire safety (fire resistance of penetrations through floors and walls)
• sound (service penetrations on party walls)
• replacing energy-efficient lighting with inefficient lighting
If a new circuit is being installed or it is within a wet zone (eg adjacent to a bath or shower) then it will require approval or self-certification under Part P.
Geoff Wilkinson is managing director of Wilkinson Construction Consultants www.thebuildinginspector.org
This article originally appeared in the April issue of AJ Specification